Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Matt Sanders who runs The Sealed Library. Have You Heard About The Beast? is out now and well worth your attention.
Undead creatures in RPGs are typically sword-and-spell fodder, and only a few types of undead get developed into having any kind of personality. That’s usually liches and vampires as significant villains or antagonists.
Today’s post is about adding some of that undead flavour to NPCs that your party will be able to have some proper social interaction with. All of these should fit into most settings without major tweaking. Simply roll a D10 or choose one that suits.
- This forked tree holds an ancient skull that was jammed into the fork many years ago. It’s the skull of Toldren Cumberle. His moss-covered skeleton lies slumped a few feet below the head, tantalisingly close to being reunited. His favourite pastime is to wait until someone passes and hurl expletives and curses at them.
- This shuffling zombie has been dead so long, and reattached so many parts of his body himself, that he’s become quite the expert surgeon. He can clean and stitch up wounds well beyond the skill of most. He answers to Anton.
- This ordinary-looking coffin is mainly notable for the muffled voice coming from within. Inside is the fresh corpse of Morgan Druffield, who was until recently the village’s oldest man. He mostly just wants to talk about the old days to whoever will listen.
- This group of stray dogs was poisoned, but they failed to move on to other planes. A crust of green foam still hangs around their mouths. One of them carries a bone which you are fairly sure is from his own leg, given how he hops along. They’re glad to see anyone who will pay attention to them, and can perform quite a lot of tricks.
- This veiled seamstress works all through the night, sewing the clothes of all who bring things to her in need of repair. She seeks to atone for perceived wrongs she did when living. During daylight, she sits and waits.
- This forlorn-looking wight shuffles around the docks, staring out to sea, his cutlass hanging limply at his side. A trail of ethereal grog bottles lies where he has been, and his speech is slurred and repetitive. “They only went and bloody left me,” he mumbles under his breath every few seconds.
- This spectre of a young woman is stuck in a loop, walking the same path again and again, disappearing at its end, and reappearing back at its beginning, only 30 feet away. As she walks, she pauses and looks at those who pass, lacking the confidence to speak up. Each time she reaches the end, she drops her hood and you can momentarily see her eyes are gone and her cheeks have been cut open, the flesh flapping around in grisly flaps.
- This cheeky spirit likes to flit around bodies of water, looming up at the faces of those who pause and glance down into the water, distorting it’s translucent face into disturbing grimaces and then breaking into giggles when the onlookers recoil in horror. The spirit is playful and always up for suggestions of what it sees as practical jokes.
- This headless skeleton rifles through garbage piles wherever it can find them. This often takes some time, as it has to stumble around, feeling its way around. Bizarrely, it does seem able to hear, and responds to people speaking to it well enough. Presumably, it’s looking for its head.
- This fearsome, matronly-looking woman bellows at the top of her lungs, calling the names of her three children in turn. “DERRRRREEEEKKK! LLLOOOORRRNNNAAAA! KAAAAAYYLLLEEEEBBB!”. When they don’t appear, she moans to whoever will listen about how they’re always pinching things and causing trouble and that she’d pay someone to bring them back.
You can find Matt on Twitter as @iammattsanders. His latest game – a collaborative game about building tavern rumours called Have You Heard About The Beast? – is out now and is really, really fantastic.
Matt also produced a really excellent bard college to go with Loot The Room’s Shadepoint supplement. The College of Cadence for 5e is still available from DriveThruRPG.